Titanium racing car frame
by Marco Willis
Titanium GM Firebird II
Q :I own a small welding (CODED) and fabrication Business, I have a client who approach as, asking if we can build a frame/Chassis for a racing car using TITANIUM, tube/box section.
Please can you suggest as, which grade of TITANIUM we can use for this car frame ??
A : Since the beginning of industrial fabrication of titanium and titanium alloys in the 50', the material received a great deal of attention from car manufacturers because of it's specific strength, its highly elastic energy and its excelent corrosion resistance. This attention culminated with the presentation of the concept Titanium GM Firerbird II, which had a titanium body (photo attached).
However, although titanium alloys are clearly superior to other metallic materials when a structural component is designed for maximum strength and fatigue, when the critical factor is the optimized stiffness - such as in your proposed application, car racing frame - then titanium is less suited due to the its comparatively low Young modulus, which is an indicator reflecting elasticity of materials.
As the frame is usually designed for greatest possible torsional and bending stiffness, the main application for titanium in automotive industry are primarily identified in the chassis and powertrain. In addition, metal-cutting and machining of titanium is more difficult and its increased notch sensitivity necessitates structural optimizations and additional finishing steps.